Premier League - Toronto hold Liverpool to draw
Brendan Rodgers’ first game in charge of Liverpool finished in a 1-1 draw with Toronto FC at the Rogers Centre.
It was the Reds’ opening match of their pre-season tour of the USA, and the new boss used it as an opportunity to cast his eye over as much of his squad as he could.
Two different starting elevens were sent out by both sides for each half, but it was the second period, which contained less experienced players, that really caught the eye.
Toronto took the lead in the 58th minute, when Quincy Amarikwa latched on to a spilled save from Liverpool goalkeeper Peter Gulacsi to give the Canadian MLS side the lead.
Raheem Sterling was living up to the hype surrounding him on the left side of midfield though, and he played a crucial part in Liverpool’s equaliser 11 minutes later.
The young winger burst into the box, took on his man and shot across goal for Adam Morgan to thump the leveller into the empty net.
With several internationals missing after Euro 2012 and due to the forthcoming Olympic football tournament, it was a solid start for Rodgers, who’s only just begun to mould the team he wants to challenge in the Premier League this season.
Liverpool dominated possession in the first half, an early sign Rodgers’ preferred passing style is starting to have an influence on his new squad.
The Reds played at a high tempo, utilising the wings well, in particular through Daniel Pacheco and 16-year-old Jordan Ibe.
Indeed, Pacheco found himself in good positions on plenty of occasions, without really testing the opposition goalkeeper.
It was an entertaining first period, but there was only one clear cut chance, and it came to Toronto.
Jamaican forward Ryan Johnson’s shot was expertly tipped around the post by Liverpool goalkeeper Brad Jones in just the 7th minutes.
It was all change in the second half for Rodgers’ squad, including an appearance for forgotten man Joe Cole, who spent last season on loan at French side Lille.
Both sides started the second period positively and with a quick pace, and it was the home side who got the opening goal just before the hour mark, when Amarikwa pounced on Gulacsi’s save from a shot from distance.
That forced Liverpool into life again, with Sterling and Suso providing the creative flair, and Cole pulling the strings from midfield.
Aside from a few rash decisions in advanced positions, this was a solid return to Liverpool for the former West Ham midfielder, who has not had the best of times at Anfield.
It was Sterling who provided the catalyst for the equaliser though, powerfully running into the box to provide the perfect assist for Morgan to score in the 69th minute.
Toronto came close to stealing a win through Andrew Wiederman, whilst Suso also had a well struck effort saved well at in the final act of the match.
The performance will provide plenty of early encouragement for Reds’ supporters under Rodgers new regime, though they will know this is only the start.
On Wednesday, Liverpool continue their pre-season tour of the USA with a match against Roma at Fenway Park in Boston – home of the Red Sox, who are also controlled by the Merseyside club’s owners.